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Blame Game Dominates Jaya and Vaiko Campaign

Written by: Staff

Madurai, Apr 11 (UNI) Personal attacks are an integral feature of elections in Tamil Nadu with the dominant Dravidian parties never being hesitant to take this as a mode of campaign.

It is more explicit in South Tamil Nadu where MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, a firebrand orator, and state Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have hit the campaign trail way ahead of their rivals.

The AIADMK supremo charged the DMK and its allies of attempting to thwart polls scheduled on May eight, by unleashing massive violence and presenting a picture of deteriorating law and order situation in the state. Her reasoning was that delaying it beyond May 21 would bring Tamil Nadu under President's rule facilitating the DMK, a constituent of the UPA Government at the Centre, to indirectly weild power in the state. Polling then would be held at a time suitable for the DMK, she added.

Mr Vaiko has commenced the election tour from his native Kalingapatti village near Tirunelveli last week and had completed the first phase of campaign in the region.

Ms Jayalaltihaa, campaigning in the region perceived to be a stronghold of the AIADMK last week, has rescheduled the tour to extensively cover the deep-south, plagued by the banner of revolt from those denied the ticket.

Taunting DMK Chief M Karunanidhi on the subsidied rice scheme promised in the party's manifesto, she quipped that his party, even without coming to power in the state, could implement the programme as the DMK was in a ''commanding'' position at the Centre.

The AIADMK chief made it clear that she would not give up the Cable TV Bill, perceived to be targeting the Cable network business of the Maran family, awaiting the Governor's assent. On being returned to power, the AIADMK would opt for legal means to get the assent and prevent media monopoly, she asserted at Karaikudi.

This, according to observers is in sharp contrast to her campaign so far in the north and the Cauvery Delta where she had sought votes on the basis of her Government's 'achievements.' Calling Union Ministers from the state as non-performers, she lambasted Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram of having done precious little to revive the Cooperative Bank in Sivaganga.

On the other hand, Mr Vaiko seems to be obsessed with the issue of 'media monopoly' of the Maran household, which he continued to rake up from Tirunelveli to Dindigul. His grudge, admittedly, is that SUN TV was totally blacking out news about him.

While Ms Jayalalithaa has been silent on the issue of 'dynastic politics' in the DMK, the MDMK chief seldom minced hiswords while referring to it at most of his public meetings.

The Tamil language media, which has never been so generous to the former POTA detenue, has gone overboard, exclaimed an observer.

Never before had the MDMK leader got so much media-space, he said.

According to a political commentator, bankruptcy of ideas and lack of a positive vision land the Dravidian politicians to stoop to personal attacks. In the absence of a wave, such methods offer a handy tool to sustain the momentum, he observed. Either the scorching summer heat or an apparent lack of political mobilisation could be the reason for the moderate crowd turnout for the Chief Minister's roadshows at most of the places she visited.

Notwithstanding her whirlwind tour and the fiery speeches of Mr Vaiko, the election machinery of the Democratic People's Front at the grassroot level is yet to take off in a big way.

Absence of enthuisiasm is very much visible among the party functionaries and cadres. The situation is no different in the DMK-led DPA as well with the exception of the Left parties. The reason, in the opinion of observers, is that the heartburns and the wounds caused by ticket distribution would take time to heal.

With every passing day, the campaign is expected to acquire heat and momentum. With not even a month left for the polling day, display of more fireworks could be expected.

The Congress list has only opened up a pandora's box with wall posters, demanding change of candidates, appearing in almost all the constituencies where it is in the fray in the south.

Least affected by dissidence is the Left. Party Polit bureau member Sitaram Yechury has toured certain parts of the state in his first leg of the election campaign.

Facing an uphill task in suburban Thiruparankundram, where a minor ripple was quelled with an iron hand, the CPI(M) has trained 100 women on the art of public speaking and other tactics of canvassing. A three-day camp for lyricists was organised by the party to compose electioneering songs. The audio cassettes and CDs of the same would hit the campaign shortly, a participant-lyricist disclosed.

To highlight local issues like the 'dangers' of the Coke plant at Gangaikondan near Tirunelveli a documentary film has been made. But, why it is wary of taking up the Periyar Dam issue and the intransigence of Kerala to revert the storage level to the original 152 ft, is the poser from farmers' leaders, who allege that the Marxist party here continue to be a satellite unit of the neighbouring state.


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